Buenos Aires is waiting with its amazing steaks, red wine, and plenty of sites to occupy you for days on end. This city rarely sleeps and you’ll have a chance to explore many weekend ferias or markets, great dining establishments, historic sites, plazas, and museums during your visit.
Sip a glass of malbec, eat an empanada in the park, or go out and practice your tango skills… or just leave it to the professionals.
When you’re tired from all the exploring and shopping, order a café con leche and relax alongside the hip Porteños (as the people of the city are called). “The Paris of South America” with its endless cafes, nightclubs, delicious foods, and European architecture will be ready to go when you’ve recovered.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Buenos Aires:
1. Recoleta Cemetery
This is no ordinary cemetery. It’s a place of rest for the rich, famous, and powerful of Argentina.
You’ll find impressive, ornate mausoleums packed tightly in this little corner of the city where you can wander for hours amidst a maze of the family graves.
Admission is free, but you may need to purchase a map to find your way around.
Perhaps the most “popular” site here is first lady Eva Perón’s tomb, where people still leave flowers and tributes.
After paying your respects to Evita, snapping some haunting photos, and petting a few stray cats, have a peek inside the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar next door.
2. Eat Steak, Drink Malbec
You are in Argentina after all. Beef and the act of gathering for a barbecue (known as an “asado”) is a huge part of Argentine culture.
Enjoy some of their high quality meats and indulge in a little of their local red wine.
Some of the great steak establishments in the city include Don Julio and La Cabrera, but if you feel like splurging, there’s the ever-popular Cabana Las Lilas.
Learn a little vocabulary before you go and remember it’s “bife de lomo” for tenderloin and “ojo de bife” for ribeye.
Be sure to order it “jugoso” if you like it medium rare. Then select a bottle of red from anywhere in Mendoza – they’re super affordable!
3. Visit Tigre
If you feel like getting out of the city for a breath of fresh air, take the train to Tigre to explore the delta for the day.
It’s very easy, only costs about 6 pesos ($0.38 USD), and takes around an hour.
The best day to visit is Sunday when you can check out the city’s Puerto de Frutos, a large market with crafts, foods, and handcrafted furniture.
There’s also an artist’s market on the main dock, a park, and a few museums.
It’s easy to take a boat tour, rent a kayak, or grab a ferry to some of the waterfront restaurants and clubs while you’re there.
4. Dance Tango at a Milonga (Or Just Watch)
Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango, so it’s the perfect place to learn… or just watch the pros.
You could go and book one of those dinner-and-tango-shows, but why not opt for the real thing? A “milonga” is a place where people go to dance tango, and there are tons of authentic ones around the city, depending on the day of the week.
There’s a Sunday night milonga in San Telmo’s Plaza Dorrego where you can see people dancing in the street.
At Salón Canning, the admission is cheap and it’s great for traditional milongas, but they also offer classes and shows.
La Glorieta is an open-air milonga in Belgrano that holds free milongas on the weekends, though donations are appreciated.
Suggested tour: Tango in Buenos Aires: 2-Hour Accompanied Milonga Outing
5. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
The Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires is among the best in the world, with works by South American artists in addition to the big names like Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, and Picasso.
And shockingly, it’s free! Make sure to hit up this museum as you stroll through Recoleta as it’s definitely worth a look around.
They’ve got paintings, tapestries, carvings, and rotating temporary exhibits on display.
6. Café Tortoni
Still charming even with all the tourists, Café Tortoni opened in 1858 and it’s a great place to grab a snack.
Swing by for a café con leche and medialuna (local croissant) or a submarino (warm milk and chocolate for dipping). A known hangout of the great tango dancer Carlos Gardel, this Porteño cafe has been a meeting place for famous scholars and artists throughout its lifetime.
Though slightly more expensive than the average café in the Buenos Aires, for the price of a coffee you can spend some time in this grand historical fixture located on the Avenida de Mayo.
Be sure to check out the Tiffany glass ceilings.
7. San Telmo Market
This colorful, crowded Sunday street fair – the Feria de San Telmo – draws over 12,000 people each week.
There’s tons of antiques, artwork, knick knacks, and other treasures laid out along the pedestrian street of Defensa.
It’s the perfect place to get an original souvenir that dates back to the golden age of Buenos Aires.
Keep an eye on your belongings as you wander the 270 stalls of this local bazaar, purchase some homemade snacks, and watch the street performers do their thing along the 13 cobblestone blocks.
8. Check Out the Fashion Designers in Palermo
Up-and-coming Argentine designers ply their wares at the Feria de Plaza Serrano and the Feria Artesanal de Palermo Viejo.
You can snag goods like one-of-a-kind jewelry, discounted clothing, and quirky accessories from their stalls.
Make sure to check out the independent vendors that sell their stuff at pop-up shops in the stores around Plaza Serrano (and any other free outdoor spaces and open areas they can find). Browse the hip and trendy shops for cheap ensembles before you head for a beer or pre-dinner snack at one the many nearby bars.
9. Have a Beer in Plaza Serrano
Speaking of, Plaza Serrano is a favorite locale in the ever-popular Palermo Soho for an outdoor drink – tons of cafes and bars have tables and chairs that spill out onto the street every evening.
Grab a liter of cold Quilmes and watch the sun set on one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods.
If you’re in the mood for craft beers or international finds, just walk a little ways from the plaza and you’ll find The Temple Bar and Antares with more diverse selections.
10. Watch a Polo Match or Horse Racing in Palermo
Argentina is known for its horsemanship, so why not take in a polo match or a race while you’re in the capital? If you’re there between September and November, you can see why Argentina is famous for polo at the Campo Argentino de Polo.
Or head to the Palermo Hippodrome to see a horse race – they’ll have several throughout the course of an afternoon.
Tickets for the grandstands are cheap, and you can bet on your favorites.
Even if you’re not there on a race day, you can still enter the grounds to check out the French architecture and see the horses in the paddock.
11. Dance at a Boliche late into the night
If tango isn’t your thing, party with the locals in one of the city’s famed nightclubs (“boliches”). But don’t get there until late… like really late.
We’re talking 2 AM. Buenos Aires is known for its nightlife, and many of these places stay open until 7 AM. Note that Porteños aren’t huge drinkers – they’re genuinely there for dancing, socializing, and fun.
House music and electronic music is popular throughout the city, so pay a visit to one of the largest and most popular clubs, Pacha (the same international brand that’s all over Europe), go see big name DJs at Crobar, or hit Niceto for a bit of everything.
12. Eat Empanadas
The quintessential Argentine snack, these little pockets of goodness come in endless forms and they’re sold everywhere from the casual street kiosko to bus stations to bakeries to actual sit-down restaurants.
The outer shell of dough can be baked or fried, and the inside might contain anything from minced beef to shredded chicken to ham and cheese to onions or mushrooms.
Some of the best places to try them? Güerrin near the Obelisco is a great cash-only spot, while Ña Serapia is a hole-in-the-wall in Palermo serving empanadas with a spicy dip.
And in Recoleta you’ll find La Cocina, the empanada dive that’s great for take-aways.
13. Take in a Show at Teatro Colón
One of the most important opera houses in the world and a Buenos Aires landmark, Teatro Colón began operating in 1857, with the current space opening in 1905. Now fully restored to its former glory, visitors can take in symphonies by famous orchestras, operas, and ballets in the majestic building.
The theater is seven stories high and takes up an entire city block.
Check their website to see what’s on the schedule, but even if you don’t see a show, you can take one of their guided tours of the theater which start every 15 minutes.
14. Wander Puerto Madero
Situated along the water, this modern cosmopolitan neighborhood is worth a stroll.
Be sure to traverse the iconic and sleek Puente de la Mujer (“Bridge of the Woman”) and take note that all of the streets in this barrio are named after women.
You can even explore two ships-turned-naval-museums which still sit in the water – the Sarmiento and the Uruguay.
Or you can head to the Reserva Ecológica if you want to catch a glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean.
Here, you’ll be able to wander footpaths or ride the bike trails of the park to see a bit of wildlife on this greener edge of the city.
15. The Plaza de Mayo and La Casa Rosada
This might be the most important place in the city.
Be sure to spend some time in this historically and politically significant plaza to see the Casa Rosada (“Pink House”) where the President of Argentina works, and where Juan and Eva Perón delivered famous speeches from its balconies.
In addition to feeding the pigeons and people watching, it’s also an epicenter for demonstrations.
The mothers and grandmothers of people who were “disappeared” by the government during the Dirty War of the 70s and early 80s – Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo – hold their weekly march in the square.
You’ll also find many protests against the British occupation and ownership of the Falkland Islands (“Las Malvinas”).
16. Try Some Dulce de Leche and Alfajores
You can actually do both of these things at the same time! Dulce de leche is a super sweet, sticky, milk-based treat reminiscent of caramel.
And it’s an Argentine favorite.
You can spread it on toast or crepes, top your ice cream with it, or eat dulce de leche between cookies or biscuits – which would actually create the popular dessert known as an “alfajor.” You can also buy these filled cookie sandwiches dipped in chocolate at many kioskos, cafes, or grocery stores.
Dulce de leche is addictive, so whatever you do, make sure to bring some home with you!
17. The Museum of Latin American Art
Lovingly abbreviated and called the “MALBA,” this is another one of the city’s favorite museums.
It’s a super modern building located in the Palermo neighborhood that houses both historical and contemporary collections of art by Latin American artists, including the famous Frida Kahlo.
Check out the political and social art of the continent, as well as the surrealism and pop art sections for some more out-there stuff.
They also have traveling exhibitions that have included the likes of Andy Warhol and change regularly.
Admission is 100 pesos (about $6 USD) but on Wednesday’s it’s half the cost.
18. Feria de Mataderos
This lively folk market and gaucho fair is situated in the working class neighborhood of Mataderos.
Happening on Sundays, it’s a great place to try regional foods like locro (a meat and corn stew), empanadas, and humita (a cheese and corn mixture wrapped inside husks). There are dancers, folk singers, and gauchos on horseback entertaining the crowds, and you’re sure to find some sort of original and rustic souvenir.
There are lots of leather goods, silver jewelry, and mate gourds being sold, and it’s a genuinely warm and fun atmosphere.
19. Stroll Corrientes Avenue
It’s the “street that never sleeps” and you can make your way through the city by wandering down it.
The bustling Avenida Corrientes passes through Microcentro, the financial district, across the pedestrian shopping street, Calle Florida, and by the Obelisco.
There are countless bookshops, cafés, pubs, theatres, and shops along its edges.
If you don’t want to DIY it, there are walking tours that peruse the surrounding area which start around the National Congress.
20. Relax in the Botanical Gardens
These botanical gardens are just the place for a peaceful (and free) walk amidst nature in the middle of this bustling city.
You can find them in Palermo just next to Plaza Italia for a moment of serenity while exploring the several types of architecture that can be found throughout.
There’s a butterfly hall, a 100-year-old greenhouse, a small lake, a few fountains, and an herbal garden.
You can just have a roam around, and there’s even plenty of shade for a picnic if you want to bring snacks and drinks.
21. Explore the Feria de Recoleta and Plaza Francia
This street market takes place on Saturdays and Sundays near the famous cemetery.
It’s filled with “hippie” crafts and works by local artists.
There are tons of handmade goods, silver jewelry, pottery, leather, mate gourds, and street performers.
Meet the local craftsmen and of course, a few dirty hippies while you wander the stalls.
Relax and have a drink overlooking Plaza Francia at one of the many restaurants and bars, or perhaps sip some mate in the grass surrounding the feria.
The plaza has a great green space for lounging and the occasional live music.
22. Check out the Colorful La Boca Neighborhood
For those iconic, vibrantly painted buildings and tango dancing in the street, hit up the La Boca neighborhood during the day for great photographs.
While some attest that the area is a bit dodgy at night, this rough barrio is home to two major tourist attractions: the famed colorful Caminito street filled with the work of artists, and La Bombonera, the stadium of the world-renowned Boca Juniors fútbol club and its insane fanbase.
Wander the cobblestone streets and head out before dark.
23. Dinner at a Supper Club or Drinks at a Speakeasy
The underground dining and drinking scene in Buenos Aires is becoming huge.
These “closed door” restaurants offer an intimate dining experience to guests and have a limited number of seatings available.
They provide a dinner party atmosphere – you’ll likely be seated with strangers around a communal table.
These places began around the year 2001 when the economic crisis and resulting tourism boom gave chefs the idea to open up their homes to diners.
Casa Saltshaker and Casa Felix are two of the most well-known puerta cerrada restaurants in the city.
But if you’d just like to have a drink while feeling sneaky, check out Victoria Brown Bar, located behind a secret entrance in a cafe in Palermo Viejo.
Or try the romantic and exclusive Ocho7Ocho, hidden beyond two unassuming wooden doors in Villa Crespo.
24. El Zanjón de Granados
El Zanjón de Granados was something of an amazing archeological find.
If you want a true time capsule experience, head underground in the San Telmo neighborhood.
Guests enter through a house that was built in the 1830s and venture down through a labyrinth of brick tunnels that were once walled off and buried.
When the homeowner purchased the land in the 1980s, he intended to build a restaurant before discovering the maze of tunnels beneath.
Restoring it became a labor of love, and now he offers tours to visitors who love architecture or want to understand the beginnings of the city.
Some historians have surmised that the first settlement of Buenos Aires in 1536 was located in this spot.
25. Become a Gaucho for a Day
You know you want to. Head outside the city into the plains (“Las Pampas”) to a local ranch (an “estancia”) for an afternoon of grilled meats, horseback riding, and gaucho performances.
Don’t worry, there should be plenty of red wine too.
These experiences are easy to arrange with transportation to and from the city included.
Guests get to watch traditional folklore performances, dancing, singing, and expert horseriding demonstrations.
If you fancy it, you can take a ride on one of the horses yourself, and then you can dig into a platter of assorted meats from steak to chicken to sausages, including the local specialty blood sausage or morcilla.
Suggested tour: Santa Susana Ranch Day Tour, BBQ & Shows